Yesterday, October 25th, 2009 was a milestone. Tuesday, October 27th will be another milestone. Yet, no bells will toll at noon. No flags will fly half staff. The world won’t stop turning. Nothing spectacular will really happen, except that in the hearts of many there will be a tremendous ache. In the minds of many others, a gentle giant will appear and some will remember, share a story of a personal or professional moment or maybe some will just smile. Late great, Louisville KY native Greg Page would have been 51 on Sunday October 25th and Tuesday October 27th will mark the six month anniversary of his passing.
Greg Page was USBA heavyweight boxing champ from 1980 thru 1984 and captured the WBA heavyweight crown by knocking out Gerrie Coetzee in South Africa in December 1984. In a fight in March 2001 in Erlanger, KY Greg went down at the end of a KY Athletic Commission (KAC) sanctioned fight for the KY State Heavyweight championship. He lapsed into a coma and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Due to a tremendous lack of oversight by the KAC (no oxygen at ringside, no ambulance present, the “ringside MD” was not licensed to practice in the State of KY among other things) Greg went without proper medical attention for 30-45 minutes. By the time the ambulance had arrived, and reached him, he was in complete cardiac and respiratory arrest and in the fight for his life. Due to those conditions he suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side with multiple severe medical issues. Despite those many impairments that would have been impossible for any other individual, that “gentle giant” fought with dignity, spirit, class and the heart of a true champion. While he lost his battle with those debilitating injuries in April he never complained and he never gave up! “The Devil Thought He Had Me But I Got Away!”
Greg never stopped believing that this life altering, career ending injury all happened by God’s design and that he went thru it for a higher purpose and that he was simply a part of a bigger picture. Anyone who came in contact with him during those last 8 years of his life would almost certainly agree that everything about Greg believed that. About 3 months into his recovery, once he found his voice again, he placed the mantle on me, “make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else.” I have taken that mantle quite seriously. I went to battle against the corrupt KAC. In early January 2005, the KAC was disbanded and the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Authority was created. The KBWA’s focus was athlete safety and they went about that task with vigor. The KWBA included a board member that took the task very seriously in the shape of Mr. Bud Schardein. Bud having been a former boxer in his own rite took on the task with the intention of helping to change Ky’s regulations with keeping the boxer safe first and foremost. With that in mind, Bud went to NY to visit with the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing (AAIB) and to see how NY did things, he came back, the KBWA rolled up its sleeves and got to work.
In mid 2006, the new regulations went into law. Among those regulations, ringside doctors had to be licensed in the State of KY and had to stay in the building with the boxers until they had left; Oxygen and an ambulance had to be ringside prior to the fights starting and promoters have to notify the closest hospital with a trauma center that fights were taking place so that a neurologist can be on call in the event of injury. None of these changes would have taken place without Greg Page in mind, the diligence of Bud and the enforcement strength and perseverance of Angela Robertson and Todd Neal.
In May 2007, while admitting no wrongdoing, the State of Ky entered into a settlement agreement with Greg Page. The most important part of that agreement named those new regulations that were enacted in 2006 after the CHAMP (The Greg Page Boxer Safety Initiatives) and the settlement established an Medical Advisory Board to advise the KBWA.
There were many things that were important to Greg. He wanted people with disabilities to be able to have access to services that they needed to help provide them with a better quality of life. That was accomplished when his oldest brother, Dennis Page founded the Greg Page Foundation (www.gregpagefoundation.com).
He wanted to start a boxing gym where kids of all ages from all backgrounds could have a place to come and learn to participate in the sport that brought him so much joy. He wanted to train them in the non-traditional style that his trainer “Baby Leroy” Edmerson taught to him and so many others. To bring this about, the Baxter Memorial Gym 100 N. 34th St, Louisville, KY (www.baxtermemorial.com) was founded. At Baxter kids can learn about boxing, building confidence and learning discipline. Members are encouraged to be ambassadors for the sport and the community and must maintain a “B” average in school and participate in volunteer projects in the area. Safety of children was of premier importance to Greg as well. He was horrified by the critical injury of Erica Hughes who was shot in her head and left for dead at the age of two and the awful abduction and murder of Cesar “Ivan” Cano near Churchill Downs not far from our residence. Greg had a chance encounter with Erica and became enchanted with her. Thus his involvement with Christopher 2X and his Fight Crimes Against Children’s Partnership.
Yes, Greg was right, his injury was all a part of a bigger picture. So to Greg from all of us who care for him, we know you are in heaven dancing in the golden streets, perhaps fishing, visiting with family and friends that passed on before you and probably running in your boots with “Baby Leroy”. RIP and know that those you left behind think of you every day and try to fill that void that you left behind by keeping the Greg Page Legacy Alive! “Believe in the Knockout Power of the Lord, Greg Page 2001”
Patricia Page (and the rest of the family)